Rochelle I. Greenbaum, M.A., CCC, COM
Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy

We can date the dental concern with oral muscle function as far back as the early l900’s.   Perhaps the first to discuss the functional aspect of orthodontic treatment was Edward H. Angle, who is sometimes  known as the father of modern orthodontic treatment.  In l908 he stated  “We are just beginning to realize how common and varied are vicious habits of the lips and tongue, how powerful and persistent they are in causing and maintaining malocclusion, how difficult they are to overcome and how hopeless is success in treatment unless they are overcome”.   (Treatment of Malocclusion of the Teeth (Ed.7), Philadelphia: S.S. White Manufacturing Company, 1907).

There are many terms for orofacial muscle dysfunction.  The most commonly used today are oral myofunctional disorders (OMD) or “tongue thrust”.  According to the International Association for Orofacial Myology (IAOM), orofacial myofunctional disorders involve a variety of postural and functional disorders including sucking habits and inappropriate oral postures or functions of the muscles of the tongue, lips, jaw, and face.  A common disorder familiar to the public is “tongue thrust”, in which the tongue rests against or between the front or side teeth during swallowing rather than lifting up into the palate (roof of the mouth).  It frequently occurs with a low, forward resting posture of the tongue with a lips apart posture.

When we think of tongue thrust, we think of swallowing with the tongue forced against the teeth.  However, we are not dealing with deglutition (swallowing) as a sole entity, but with total function  of all of the orofacial muscles.  This includes mastication (chewing) as well as resting posture of the tongue, lips, and jaw.  Therapy for correction of OMD’s is best performed  by an orofacial myofunctional therapist.

Orofacial myofunctional therapy is a training program to synchronize the orofacial musculature during mastication, deglutition and orofacial resting posture.  It is prescribed to individuals who have a tongue thrust swallowing pattern and a low and forward resting posture of the tongue which  usually results in malocclusion of the teeth.  The goal of myofunctional therapy is to replace this detrimental behavior pattern with proper orofacial habits so that normal growth and development of the teeth may take place or progress in a proper environment.

Oral habits such as digit sucking and tongue sucking play a very important role in the development and the retention of a myofunctional disorder because of strong pressures against the dentition and a low and forward tongue posture. Orofacial myofunctional therapy as an adjunct to dental treatment can aid the dentist and orthodontist in achieving the functional aspects of their treatment. For more information click here…

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